Darren Doyle, story: Madison Doyle, photos:
Both the Edmonson County Wildcats and Lady Cats are set to begin the 2019-20 season tonight at home against Breckinridge County with a girl/boy doubleheader beginning with the girls game at 5:30pm.
Both the boys and girls teams lost only one senior each last year and both head coaches, Mike McClintic (boys) and Bart Weaver (girls) are excited about what this season could bring. We spoke with each coach yesterday to discuss the upcoming season that begins tonight.
The boys team had plans of bringing back four starters from last year's 12-18 squad (losing last year's senior Griffin Spainhoward) but a summer baseball injury from the team's leading scorer and rebounder, junior Chaz Wilson, has altered that plan. Coach Mac said Wilson, who averaged a double/double last year (14ppg, 10rpg) was playing first base on a traveling league earlier this summer when he jumped to catch an errant throw. He crushed his ankle as he landed, which required a combination of plates and screws to repair. Wilson is currently rehabbing and McClintic said the timetable for his return is unknown; however, it could be within two weeks or as late as January.
"I'm not sure about his exact return time," he said. "He obviously wants to come back as soon as possible, and so do we, but we want to make sure he's healthy and ready. If we have to wait a month or more, then that's what we need to do, in the meantime, we're looking at it as 'next man up.' We say that a lot and we mean it. If someone goes down or isn't available, we've got to have somebody to step up and be the next man up."
Coach Mac says he's been pleased with what he's seen in practice so far. Returning will be senior guards Nick Clemmons (8.2ppg) and Dalton Decker (12.5ppg) with Decker at point and Clemmons as shooting guard. Decker is expected to lead the floor while the team will look for Clemmons as their three-point shooter.
Senior Eli Booker returns at center and McClintic says he's coming back with a better feel around the rim. Senior Mason Pierce will retake his role as forward, a scrappy player who's known for getting to loose balls and rebounds, and junior Daniel Woosley will fill the role of the other forward that will also show shooting ability this season.
"We're going to be a little deeper this year," said Mac. "That will help us as we try to run more man-to-man and motion. We're going to be more aggressive on both ends of the floor. Our guys are showing good leadership already and that's really going to help us."
The roster is made up of only juniors and seniors, 7 of each, something the Wildcats haven't experienced for several seasons.
"That leadership extends out to guys coming off the bench, too. Trent Taylor, Gavin Rose, Luke Meredith, Isaiah Johnson, Jon Smith, Lane Lindsey, Houston Vincent, and Dylan Lindsey, everybody has a role and I think when we all fill them like we're trying, we have a shot at this district."
The District 12, Grayson, Trinity, and Butler, which Mac says is wide open. The boys are scheduled for two district games on the road in just the second and third games of the season.
"Breckinridge is a tough team and we're looking forward to a challenge tonight," he said. "I think we have a legit shot of having a great season and competing in the district but we'll see in 2-3 weeks where we stand after these early district games."
If the team can compete well early without Chaz Wilson, McClintic says he looks forward to what can happen once he returns and the guys are running on all cylinders.
Just like the boys, the Lady Cats also lost only one senior, which was Chanley Logsdon (9.2ppg, leading 3-pt shooter), but Coach Bart Weaver it may take more than one person to fill her shoes.
"She brought much more to the table than just shooting threes," he said. "She was our leader, she did a lot of things so we've been talking about leadership a lot this year."
Like McClintic, Weaver looks to have four returning starters which could come in handy when another word is mentioned, which is "three-peat." The Lady Cats enjoyed back-to-back district titles over the past two season, something not accomplished in Edmonson County since the 1994-1995 seasons under former Coach Kevin Jackson. A basketball district three-peat has only been accomplished once in school history, when the boys did it in 1973, 74, and 75.
"Yes, we said 'three-peat' already," said Weaver. "We talk about it often. The district is wide open, very similar to last year and I really like where the team is right now. We want to accomplish some big tasks this year. In August we committed to being in better shape, so we've put in the work in conditioning and weights. We want to be stronger than our opponents."
Returning starters will be point guard junior Katie Lindsey (11ppg) and senior guard Lauren Ballance (9.7ppg, 6.5rpg). Leading rebounder senior Madison Harrison (6ppg, 7rpg), and Emma Rose Vincent (8.6ppg, 5rpg) returns as starting center. Senior Mia Goad (5ppg) will be the other starting forward. Senior Macie McCombs will likely be the sixth player, who Weaver says will be a solid contributor this season.
"At first I was a little worried about our depth but after seeing some younger players step up, I feel pretty good about it. You'll probably see some of Lily Jayne Vincent, Jadlyn Simon, who's really improved, Shea VanMeter, Paige Wolfe, and Maham Shahbaz throughout the year."
Last year's team finished 24-8 and Coach Weaver says he's expecting another successful season.
"We're excited and I like what I see. I like where our girls are. It's a wide-open district and we plan to go out there and compete."
Girls action is scheduled to begin at 5:30 tonight at ECHS with the boys starting around 7:30pm. The WildcatsLive crew with carry both the audio broadcast and video stream for both games on the Edmonson Voice Facebook page and website.